The photo above is of the swamp at the entrance to the estate I live in. At first glance, it is butt ugly. And sometimes it smells less than fresh (to put it politely). It kind of reflects what I want to write about today.
Most people take no notice of this swamp because it isn’t beautiful, you have to leave the sealed path to get into it, there are much more obviously appealing places to go and generally people are in a rush. Plus it is enthusiastically patrolled by marauding mosquitoes who viciously attack the second you arrive.
But I love it.
As always, it is about perspective.
I love it because it is raw and gritty and has depth and texture. A bit like life at the moment. It is also home to an incredible variety of birds (and probably insect life but I haven’t got that up close and personal yet). At the moment (autumn), it has donned a mantle of many different shades of brown.
To see the beauty of this swamp requires Stillness. Silence. I need to wait patiently with awareness (protected by my extra strong insect repellent).
The breeze whispers tenderly to the trees, strumming the leaves like a classical guitarist, and caresses the water like gentle fingers stroking a lovers back, ripples of ecstasy shivering across the surface. The reeds murmur in delight as they sway and dance, slim and flexible, and the messy paperbarks rustle indignantly.
Dead trees stand in stark dignity.
A heavy Pelican grooms itself; unwieldy and lumbering on land, but gloriously stately on water and in the air, it stands on the dark branches of a tree long since dead that sprawls in the water, tenderly stoking each feather with its long beak, stretching its elongated neck to rub its head with sensuous enjoyment under its wings. On another branch the Yellow-billed Spoonbill balances on one leg in drowsy contemplation as a family of Pacific Black Ducks mill busily in the water below.
The Black Swans arch their graceful necks as they float serenely and in the shallows the Great Egret in long legged pure white elegance slowly stalks, pausing to admire its reflection in the water.
A lone Little Pied Cormorant perches in a dead tree, luxuriously spreading its wings to dry as the warm sun slowly rises in the sky and the Pink and Grey Galah’s squabble in raucous rivalry in the Norfolk pines.
The White Faced Heron shyly skirts the reeds, prim and plain in its soft grey, like a governess from a forgotten era mindful of her humble place and the Osprey sits at the top of a tree surveying the scene with haughty grandeur.
It is a place of enchantment, buzzing with life. Many different species dwell in harmony here, and they come and they go, and they barely leave a footprint.
I sit in the peace of wild things and look over my shoulder and see the road and houses and cars and power-lines and busy rushing people, oblivious to the wonder and beauty just metres away.
And I feel sad for the Great Loss that humanity experienced when we forgot how to be still. When shallow sophistication, money and busyness became our new Gods and we kissed their feet in homage. When we began to see the natural world as something to be used, exploited and abused. Or when we simply became indifferent, tucked up tight in our safe, solid buildings, secure in our technological superiority, cushioned from reality.
Not any more.
In one swiftly moving and silent virus, our smug complacency and denial of death has been confronted, and we are displeased.
When I take time to be present and sit with nature, I quickly understand it is only the minds of mankind that are in uproar and chaos. Nature is undisturbed. Peace and harmony still reign. The cycle of life and death is uninterrupted. Life continues to express itself through Form on this earth as it has for millenniums past and will for millenniums to come if we stop our abuse and indifference.
What lies beneath the chaos and mayhem is PEACE and JOY and LOVE.
It is there in the silence. It is there in Nature. It is in us.
We have covered it with our noisy foolishness. Fortunately we cannot destroy it.
In the midst of our feverish busyness, Nature (with the reluctant endorsement of our governments), has offered us an OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE and REFLECT. To become WISER and STRONGER, more COMPASSIONATE and CONNECTED.
Which do you choose?